Home Sports Why Brent Musburger thinks Farmington Road can provide big Belmont Stakes payday

Why Brent Musburger thinks Farmington Road can provide big Belmont Stakes payday

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There are two big questions for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes:

1. Can anyone stop Tiz the Law? Before he was installed as the 6-5 favorite on the morning line, he was already the odds-on favorite in futures betting at Circa Sports in Las Vegas and in global markets. With so many other contenders being hurt or held out of the race, Tiz the Law is the only horse in the field that has a Grade 1 win. Actually, he has two.

2. Can future Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher win the Belmont for the fourth time? After graduating from the stable of D. Wayne Lukas, Pletcher has won it with Rags To Riches (2007), Palace Malice (2013) and Tapwrit (2017). This weekend Dr Post and Farmington Road try to follow in their hoof steps. Both horses were sired by Quality Road, a winner for Pletcher in big races such as the Met Mile, the Woodward and the Donn Handicap.

Pletcher has another statistic you should not overlook. Taking a page from Jack Nicklaus in golf, he has finished second in the Belmont five times, twice losing photo finishes with Commissioner (2014) and Destin (2016). His horses also finished third three times. It is important to remember that all these results came at 1 ½ miles around two turns. This Belmont is just 1 ¹/₈ miles around one turn to lead off the Triple Crown rather than wrap it up. Still, this is Todd Pletcher’s track. And this is Todd Pletcher’s race.

So this is the choice that will rule the day for bettors: Tiz The Law? Or Mr. Pletcher?

Main contenders: Even before he won this spring’s Florida Derby, Tiz the Law sent notice he was one to watch by winning last year’s Champagne Stakes, making him the horse for this course. Trained by Barclay Tagg and owned by Sackatoga Stable, he will try to win the race that eluded their 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Funny Cide.

Pletcher has reigning two-time Eclipse Award winner Irad Ortiz Jr. riding Dr. Post, a two-time winner this spring at Gulfstream Park. That is where he closed strong in April to win the Unbridled Stakes. Early pace will be shown from the rail by Tap it to Win, who won a one-turn allowance at Belmont Park two weeks ago.

Dr. Post
Dr. PostGetty Images

Deep closer Sole Volante comes in off an even shorter break, winning an allowance at Gulfstream Park just 10 days before the Belmont. Coming off a third-place finish last month in a loaded Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs, Pneumatic has become a wise-guy horse this week. He probably will be among the horses going forward early in the long run to the only turn.

Value play: Farmington Road plays the role of “the other Pletcher” in the Belmont. But he gets Hall of Fame rider Javier Castellano, and he might get a kind set-up if Tiz the Law chases the pace set by Tap it to Win and late entrant Fore Left.

“He’s probably a horse who would have benefited from the traditional distance of the mile-and-a-half,” Pletcher said. “But he’s come close to delivering that breakthrough performance. He doesn’t have a lot of early speed, but he’s got a good sustained run. He would certainly appreciate a good, honest, fast pace up front and an unbiased track that would play to closers.”

Watch the results of the early races. If closers are able to do anything, this could be a big payday with Farmington Road at 15-1 on the morning line and 20-1 at Circa.

$100 wagering strategy:

• $10 to win: Farmington Road

• $5 exactas: Farmington Road over “All”

• $5 exactas: “All” over Farmington Road

Top four picks: 1. Farmington Road; 2. Tiz the Law; 3. Dr Post; 4. Tap it to Win.

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